Switching ESPs? Make Authentication Part of the Switch for Better Email Deliverability


email authentication helps email deliverability especially when switching ESPs When you switch from one email service provider to another, you’ll have your work cut out for you in the transition and ramping up of your staff with the new platform.

You probably realize that you’ll need to ramp up your new IP address too, if you’re going with a dedicated IP (rather than a shared pool). That’s to ensure that your deliverability doesn’t suffer when ISPs see your email arriving from an unknown IP address. The secret is to slowly and steadily build up volume, gradually building a solid sending reputation.

However, you might not realize you should also make sure that you set up proper authentication when switching ESPs (when getting a dedicated IP address). That is, if you care about your email deliverability rate…and we’re pretty sure you do!

Reputation + Authentication = Better Deliverability
No matter your email service provider, email deliverability matters. In fact, it might even be a reason for switching to a new ESP. And when you do switch ESPs, you should both carefully rebuild your reputation and make sure you authenticate your email.

Building a good sending reputation and using proper authentication are different. You can pursue either independently. Both will help your deliverability. and doing both means your deliverability will be that much better. Think of it this way:

  • Slowly building up your sending reputation with your new IP address will prove to the ISPs that you are trustworthy based on your behavior.
  • Taking the technical steps necessary to authenticate your email will prove you are trustworthy based on your identity.

Why worry about email authentication right now?
Email authentication essentially proves you are who you say you are. Authentication isn’t related to your sending reputation, so ramping up your IP address doesn’t authenticate, nor vice versa.

Many marketers, however, don’t worry about authentication until there’s a deliverability problem down the road. Do you really want to wait for a problem you have to fix? Or would you rather authenticate now and not worry about issues later?
Also, even if you set up email authentication with your former email service provider, you’ll still need to update it with the new information.

What kind of email authentication?
Email authentication has become a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms: SPF, Sender ID, DKIM, and DMARC are all standards right now. Consult with your new ESP to see which authentication technologies they recommend and support. It is likely you will put into place a combination of these technologies since different ISPs, like Gmail and Yahoo!, require different forms of authentication to deliver your mail.

Some ESPs use a very hands-on approach and will manage setting up your authentication. Others will provide instructions, but will expect your IT team to do the set up. However you go about it, our advice is: Don’t put it off. Need help? Just ask us!

How to handle sub-domains
If you will be using a sub-domain (for example, email.xyz.com) for your email addresses, you’ll need to determine the configuration path. Again, you need to find out whether the ESP is going to manage the whole domain and authentication for you. If not, find out if you are supposed to host the sub-domain and point elements of it to the ESP so they can authenticate it for their MTAs (mail transfer agents).

How you go about your email authentication will depend on your new email service provider, so start there to determine the steps to take. But take the steps. Authentication is every bit as important as reputation when starting with a new ESP. Don’t wait for a problem later when your email deliverability can be made better now.


About Marco Marini

Marco Marini has been at the forefront of email marketing since its inception as a channel. Prior to co-founding ClickMail, Marco developed pioneering email campaigns for CyberSource, eHealthInsurance, DoveBid and IBM Canada while holding key marketing roles in those organizations. Through his experience on both sides of the email marketing table--client and agency--Marco has developed significant expertise in using email to its full potential to generate substantial return on investment for marketers, management and investors. As CEO at ClickMail, Marco’s main focus is defining the company’s strategy. However, he also spends time advising clients on how to leverage enterprise-level ESP technology as a primary engine for business growth. His expertise in every aspect of email enables Marco to guide clients and ClickMail’s internal teams to develop sophisticated campaigns that employ best-in-class strategies, overcome technical hurdles, and meet business objectives. Marco was born in Canada and grew up in Italy. He and his wife are the parents of four children. He is active in the Silicon Valley Italian Executives Council and is on the Northern California board of Stop Hunger Now.

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